The Pakistan Army has made it clear that it will not send troops for any mission outside the region to be a part of a grand military alliance to crush the self styled Islamic State in the Middle East. Army spokesman Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa has stated that the army had already stationed 182,000 troops along the Afghan border, and cannot afford to deploy more troops elsewhere. It is assuring that despite reports of growing US pressure, decisions are being taken in the best interest of the country. It seems that Army Chief General Raheel Sharif is truly earning the popularity he has amassed since taking over the challenging office.

Earlier this year Pakistan’s parliament decided against military involvement in the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen. Saudi Arabia had asked Pakistan to contribute ships, aircraft and troops to the campaign to restore President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, a call that Pakistan rebuffed, bearing the brunt of the decision in the following days. Pakistan has a history of supporting its large donors and caving in to pressure on agendas that have no direct impact on the sovereignty of the country.

The seventh largest military power in terms of active troops, Pakistan has an extensive history of overseas military presence, especially in the Middle East, where it has maintained military contingents, missions and battalions in several states. By the 1980s, Pakistan maintained military missions in 22 countries, becoming the largest military manpower deployer in the Third World.

But with the operation Zarb-e-Azb taking up precious resources and tying up soldiers in different missions, as well as those protecting our borders from aggressive and hostile neighbors, Pakistan must change its foreign policy and refrain from deploying troops abroad. There is no doubt that the fight against ISIS is a global one, but it is important that we must not make it a personal one. It is high time that the government plays its part by strengthening its political and democratic processes so that ISIS does not find ground in this country, as the army is already actively carrying out its role of protecting the borders and conducting intensive military action against these proscribed organisations.